'Are we back to the Emergency days?' Madhav Godbole, the distinguished civil servant asked, after his speech was abruptly cancelled by the Maharashtra government.
Madhav Godbole is one of India's most distinguished civil servants.
The author of several important books, Dr Godbole served as the nation's home secretary, a post he resigned from after the Babri Masjid demolition.
Dr Godbole was invited by the chief secretary, government of Maharashtra -- the ex-officio honorary secretary of the Maharashtra regional branch of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi -- to deliver the B G Deshmukh Memorial Lecture for 2015-16 on any subject of his choice.
Dr Godbole was reluctant to accept the request as he had already given two B G Deshmukh Memorial Lectures at the Symbiosis Law School in collaboration with the Public Concern for Governance Trust, Pune, and the Asiatic Society in Mumbai respectively.
When the chief secretary insisted, Dr Godbole agreed to do so.
The chief secretary suggested April 4, 2016 as the date for the lecture.
'While suggesting the date, I am sure he must have taken into account the usual schedule of the budget session of the state legislature,' Dr Godbole noted.
'He had also written that IIPA would like to have my speech in advance so that it could be circulated to the audience. Accordingly, I had sent him my speech titled 'Is India A Secular Nation?' by email on March 11, 2016,' Dr Godbole told friends in an email.
'I was told that the IIPA had also got it printed. Against this background, I was surprised when I was informed by email on April 1 that the lecture had been cancelled. No reason was given for the cancellation,' Dr Godbole added.
'Are we back to the Emergency days?' Dr Godbole asked.
Dr Godbole is no ordinary civil servant. He is a scholar immensely respected for his wisdom, intellectuality and integrity.
What Dr Godbole has to say is important, hence we attach a PDF version of his undelivered speech, Is India a Secular Nation? here.